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VOCs and You: An Essential Guide to Clean Air

Having clean air in your home is important for the health of you and your family. If the air quality of your home in Kinston, North Carolina, is suffering, you’ll feel the effects both at home and outside of it. Volatile organic compounds are one of the leading causes of poor air quality and related health issues. Here’s everything you need to know about VOCs and how to keep them from building up in your home.

What are VOCs?

Volatile organic compounds are gases that solids or liquids emit. While not necessarily toxic in extremely small amounts, this gas can pose serious side effects to those exposed. The most common method of exposure is either through inhalation, whether directly from the source or any lingering gas, or through touch. Inhalation makes the symptoms appear more rapidly, but touch is just as dangerous.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms?

The most common side effects and symptoms of VOC exposure range dramatically depending on the length of time exposed. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different exposure symptoms you can expect:

Short-term exposure to VOCs:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems
  • Eye and lung irritation
  • Visual disorders

Long-term exposure to VOCs:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Eyes, throat, and nose irritation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Liver, kidneys and central nervous system damage
  • Cancer

As you can see, the symptoms and effects escalate quickly depending on the amount of time exposed. More vulnerable populations, like children, the elderly or people with asthma, may experience these symptoms more quickly than healthy adults.

How Do They Get Into My Home?

VOCs, like many contaminants, enter your home through many popular household items. You’d be amazed at how many common products contain and release VOCs. Some of the most common items that contain VOCs are:

  • Glue
  • Paint thinner
  • Nail polish remover
  • Cigarettes
  • Mothballs
  • Smoke
  • Deodorizers
  • Laundry detergents
  • Floor lacquer
  • Heavily scented soaps
  • Paint
  • Permanent markers

For items like laundry detergents and glue, not all of the different types of these products contain VOCs. It’s more typically associated with liquids that have strong chemical components.

In addition, VOCs can get into your house other ways, like the family car idling in the garage. Even if the garage door is open and your home door is shut, VOCs can make their way inside. If you can smell the exhaust, chances are VOCs are entering your home and building up inside.

Some products that contain VOCs are clearly labeled as such, but not all. Keep an eye out when buying products, and double-check anything that you think may contain them but isn’t labeled. As a result, you’ll help protect your family.

How Can I Prevent VOCs From Spreading in My Home?

There are plenty of ways to prevent VOCs from building up and spreading in your home. Your best tool is ventilation. Whether you’re using the exhaust fans in your home or cracking the windows, getting fresh air flowing in your home is vital for reducing the amount of VOCs built up.

It’s especially important to do this while you’re actually using the product. For example, if you’re using furniture polish on household items, open a few nearby windows and run the fan. As a result, you’ll reduce the chance of any buildup.

Another good way to keep VOCs from getting into your home is to ensure you’re storing them correctly. Avoid leaving any VOC product with an open lid. If possible, you should store all of these items in airtight containers away from the home. For products like gasoline and ethanol, it’s best to store these items in a detached garage or shed.

Of course, storing away from the home isn’t always possible. In many cases, an airtight lid is the best solution. If you need to purchase items that contain VOCs for your home, try to avoid buying bulk. The fewer products that contain VOCs in your home, the better.

Are you concerned about your home’s indoor air quality? We can help. Call J & J Mechanical, Inc. at 855-800-1341 to schedule an appointment today!

Image provided by Bigstock

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